Today’s Rescue Mission lunch was much like any other day save for a very special guest, Bill Bishop. Bill has been a consistent and quiet presence in the Santa Barbara recovery community and particularly for the men in our recovery program for many years. It would be hard to number the men he has sponsored in his 30 years of sobriety. The men coming through our recovery program often face challenges as they reenter the workforce, Bill’s willingness to employ many of them in his construction business has been crucial in giving them confidence and practical skills.
We couldn’t let Bill retire and move back East without properly honoring him but, like many of our most prized volunteers, he would have refused the banquet, gala, or parade he rightfully deserves. We had to lie just a bit to get him to show up for a simple Friday afternoon lunch with the guys, but we were so grateful to pay him tribute and hear a few graduates and staff speak of his impact on their lives. In the few comments we could get him to make, Bill pulled out his big stack of chips—one for each year of sobriety—and encouraged everyone to stay the course in their recovery. May we never forget how taking things one day at a time can add up so significantly.
Is the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission effective because of its clinical treatment model? Certainly. Do lives get changed in our buildings? Sure. But nothing is more instrumental than the people God uses to impart grace to the men and women He brings to us. Some of them, as staff, are very visible day-to-day, but some of our most crucial team members are those quiet ones, like Bill, who serve as a model and guide through the way they live their daily lives.
Many thanks and blessings, Bill! We will miss you but will be reminded daily of you in the changed lives we see.